Car seat recommendations change yet again

If you're the parent of a toddler between the ages of 1 and 2, you should know that car seat recommendations have changed course yet again.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in late March recommended that parents keep toddler car seats in the rear-facing position until a child turns 2. This contrasts with the AAP's previous recommendation in 2002, which advised that children could face forward after their first birthday.

The AAP is basing its new recommendation on evidence that a child involved in a crash who is rear-facing in her car seat will benefit from better head, neck and spine support. According to a 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention, children 2 and younger are 75 percent less likely to be injured or killed if they are in the rear-facing position at the time of impact. The message here is that children who remain rear-facing longer will be safer.

Please note: this is a recommendation and not a law – we encourage you to take this opportunity to weigh your options and make a safe choice for your family. We also encourage you to take your vehicle and car seat to a local fire department or other agency that will inspect and, if need be, correct the installation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), three out of four parents do not use child restraints correctly.

For an inspection location near you, visit the NHTSA's Child Safety Seat Inspection Locator. If you live in Oregon, you may search the ACTS (Alliance for Community Traffic Safety) Oregon Child Safety Seat Resource Center for an inspection location near you. The AAP offers additional information on infant, toddler and child seats.